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The survivors' opening lap at last year's Relay For Life.
The survivors' opening lap at last year's Relay For Life.

'Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back' at Relay For Life

by jmaloni
Sat, Jun 12th 2010 08:00 am

by Tiffany Hyman and Terry Duffy

The American Cancer Society is holding its 13th annual Relay For Life of Lewiston/Niagara today, Saturday, June 12, from noon to midnight on the running track of Lewiston-Porter High School, 4061 Creek Road, in Youngstown.

Residents are welcome to participate in this event that helps raise money toward fighting cancer. Tami Gabri, director of special events for the ACS, reports that more than 500 volunteers, students and members of the community are expected to join together to honor those who have lost their lives to cancer, the survivors' caregivers, and celebrate those who survived cancer. Among the many volunteers are the on-site food fundraisers: Lewiston-Niagara-on-the-Lake Rotary, the Lewiston Service Guild, Mander's Tinkerbells, the Lewiston Kiwanis Aktion Club, Lew-Port PEC, Ben's Buddie's, Northern Lights and ACS.

This year's theme is "Relay Through the Ages: Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back." Highlights of today's Relay include:

  • The Opening Ceremony/The Survivors' Lap at noon on the Lew-Port track. The event is an inspirational time of cancer survivors circling the track in a celebration of victories achieved over cancer. Featured will be speeches from survivors and caregivers, followed by the cancer Survivors' Lap and a luncheon.
  • The Lakeside Blues band performs from 1:15 to 3 p.m.
  • A variety of children's activities will be available from 2 to 8 p.m. including a bounce house, a frozen T-shirt contest and a scavenger hunt.
  • A Chiavetta's barbecue chicken dinner, coordinated by the Lewiston-Porter High School faculty and staff, will be served from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Survivors' Tent on the Relay track. Or drive-up for takeouts to the bus shelter in the front of the school. The cost for the dinner is $8 and includes chicken, salad, and a dinner roll. Profits all go towards the American Cancer Society.
  • A water balloon toss will be held at 4:30 p.m.
  • The volleyball tournament will take place at 4:45 p.m. and both skilled and unskilled are invited to participate.
  • The best baton competition will begin at 6:30 p.m.
  • The dolphin dash relay will start at 6:45 p.m.
  • A basket auction drawing will take place at 7 p.m. The Buffalo Bandettes will appear during the drawing.
  • A classic and fun "Kan Jam" game will begin at 7:30 p.m.
  • The Luminaria Ceremony begins at 9:30 p.m. Regarded as one of the most moving events of the day, it sees participants joining together both to commemorate those who have lost their loved ones to cancer and those who have survived by lighting a decorative illuminated bag in their honor.
  • The Fight Back Ceremony begins at 11:45 p.m. It concludes the day's Relay and ends at midnight.

At this writing, there are 236 participants sponsored in the Relay, 30 teams, and $29,778.78 raised thus far for the American Cancer Society. Community members of all ages are invited to attend the event and help to raise money.

Dressbarn clothing store is among those helping out by contributing sales to the American Cancer Society. They are selling the Hope Bracelet for $5 and will donate $2.50 from the bracelet sales. In 2009, Dressbarn and Maurices clothing stores teamed up and raised $710,000 towards the ACS. They anticipate to raise even more this year, including with the sales of the Hope Bracelet.

For organizers Jacqueline Bollinger, who serves as team recruitment chair, and Michelle Fleck, co-chair of this year's Relay, this event brings special meaning.

 "As a one-year survivor, I Relay for those who can't," says Bollinger, who has overcome stage ii triple negative breast cancer. "I walk for the women I know who lost their fight, and the mothers of young children who struggle to live."

"I Relay so that I will not see anymore children making Luminaria bags for their parents," says Fleck. "Throughout (Relay), I learned all about the event and met lots of exceptional people. ... For the Luminaria ceremony ... I walked the track and observed all of the decorated bags. I noticed two girls sitting next to a Luminaria they decorated in memory of their father. That is when I made the decision that I would do everything in my power so that there would be no more girls decorating Luminaria bags for their fathers, or any children or family members."  

Both invite the community to be part of something special by attending today's Relay at Lewiston-Porter.

For more information, contact Gabri at 689-6982, ext. 111, or visit [email protected].

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